Friday, April 9, 2010

I come from a long line of storytellers. I suppose you could say it's in my DNA.

My mother says the reason there are so many storytellers in our family is that we come from generations of methodists. And since methodists considered just about everything a sin, there was precious little left for entertainment, but to sit around and tell stories. That's mother's version anyway's. She was an Anglican.

When I was a young boy I loved our visits to my grandfather's farm in the clay belt of Temiskaming, Ontario. If it were a special occasion like haying time, hog killing time or some holiday, my dad and all my uncles would all be there. After the day’s work they'd all sit around the back porch bringing everyone up to date on what was happening in their lives and of course, telling stories.

Now, the thing about good storytelling is that it transports images into your mind that last a lifetime. Knitted together, stories form an intimate family history. Through them you gain insight into a personality.

My father was an excellent carpenter. He had a reputation in our area for his skill and his prices. Long after he had passed away folks would point to some of his work that had endured the years. He was a good man.

I recall when I was young we were on a fishing trip. My Dad loved the outdoors. We had canoed out onto a big lake and decided to make camp on one of the islands. Just after dusk we heard voices coming from a neighhbouring island. No doubt a group of canoeists making the trip down stream to Lake Huron. I could just make out their voices but could tell they were European.

Dad was busy poking at the campfire.
“What kind of language are they talking in?” I asked.
My father kept stirring at the red coals and without looking up said in a matter of fact way.
“Don't know ..... but they're laughing in english.”

That story has been told at dozens of dinners and family get togethers.

I look at my grandkids faces. They had never met their great grandfather, but the smiles on their faces told me that for that instant they felt a closeness to a man who 50 years earlier had taken his ten year old son on a fishing trip.